Everything Women Need to Know About Asking for a Raise
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
It’s probably one of the most nerve-racking conversations you’ve ever had -- and unfortunately, you’ll need to repeat it many times over the course of your career. Ah yes, friends, we’re talking about “the Ask."
Before we get into this whole “template” thing, a disclaimer: obviously, every company, every job and every person is different. Do we think you should use this template word-for-word? Actually, no. But we do think it lays out exactly the types of information you should cover during your conversation with your boss. Think of it as a guide. The rest is up to you.
Before the Ask: How to prepare
Two words: preparation and timing. Before you even begin to craft your pitch for the raise you so deserve, you need to have knowledge to back up your claims and consider the mood and environment you’re walking into.
- Pull all the positive praise you’ve received since your last review. It helps if you set up a folder on your computer or in your email account to store all those notes from clients, your boss and your colleagues in which you were commended for a great job.
- Go for hard numbers. How has your company or department directly benefited from your work? Did your team play a role in increasing sales by [x]% last year? Did you bring in [x] new clients? Is the team you oversee bigger than it was last year?
- Consider what you’ll bring to the team in the coming year (and beyond). You’re asking for this raise because you’ve demonstrated that you’ll go above and beyond, but your boss also wants to hear that you’re in it for the long haul. How do you plan to continue growing within the company if you do get this raise?
- Think about why your boss wants to give you more money. What’s in it for her or him? Would giving you the raise ensure that they have a stable person in a leadership role? Would your raise prevent the possibility of you leaving and thus the turnover time and drawn out application process they dread? These are things you should have in the back of your mind when formulating your Ask, even if you don’t bring them up (actually really though, don’t threaten that if you leave, they’ll be screwed).
- Come up with a real number. They’re going to ask. You need to have an answer. That number should be based on real research (Glassdoor has a salary calculator) and industry standards. And don’t forget that you’ll wind up losing 15 percent or more of that number in the negotiation phase.
Related: How to Ask for a Raise -- and Get It
- Focus on the personal. You may feel burnt out and underpaid, but you’re going to need to let this go to have a useful conversation. Money is money, there’s nothing emotional about it. So set those thoughts aside and go back to focusing on raw data.
- Ask at a terrible time. Do some research on how your company works. Do departments get funding at certain points of the year? Do they have official or even unspoken hiring freezes? Did your boss just lose a huge client or have an unsuccessful presentation? Did your co-worker who’s been there longer just ask for a raise, too? Carefully consider your timing. Even if it means waiting a month or two, you’ll be glad you did.
- Fudge numbers or take undue credit. Most projects are done on a team, and your boss knows too well what kind of work you’ve been doing. Don’t say “I’ve been working 70 hour weeks” when we all know you haven’t been or that “You were responsible for increasing sales by 23 percent last year,” when you worked with an entire team. Give credit where credit is due.
- At the same time, don’t sell yourself short. People, and women in particular, tend to couch their requests in what Diana Faison, a partner with leadership development firm Flynn Heath Holt Leadership calls “power robbers” like “I feel like” and “I believe.” Practice talking about what you want without qualifiers.
The Ask template
Asking for a raise, or any pitch really, is about good storytelling. Really, though, it needs: situation, conflict and resolution. The resolution part is you getting the raise, get it? The easiest way to do that is to cover the who, what, where, why, when and how.
Some other tips:
- Get on the calendar. At some offices, a talk about a raise might come up naturally when talking about growth or new responsibilities your boss wants you to take on, but in most cases you’ll want to make sure you’ve requested a set time to sit down. The last thing you want is your boss checking her watch because she’s due in a meeting.
- Don’t just practice, record it. Set your phone on a table and record yourself making your Ask. Force yourself to listen to it back (it sucks to hear yourself, it really does, but it’s so worth it).
- Go through your Ask with a friend. It’s one thing to do it in the mirror. Try having a friend sit in, and make sure they’re a friend who you know will give honest feedback.
And now, the formula. We’re calling it the "GIMME."
- G: Give background info
- I: Introduce why you’re awesome
- M: Make your case research-based
- M: Make the Ask
- E: End with a bang
After the Ask
Chances are your boss won’t be able to say yes or no right away. They’ll probably ask you for some time to discuss with other supervisors and/or review your information. Thank them for their time and give them some space, but make sure to touch base with them if you haven’t heard back after a full week.
Related: Level-Up Your Salary With These 5 Simple Tips
You should also be prepared for when the answer is no. If that’s the case, consider what other perks you could ask for. Extra vacation days? Work from home Fridays? Better benefits? Often, these perks are easier for employers to provide than monetary compensation.
Not so terrible right? Go get that raise.
(By Kit Warchol)